During the COVID-19 pandemic, the business has been slow in most industries. It’s tempting to focus on the short-term problems as a leader, but businesses that look forward and take proactive steps will be able to create momentum now that they can use to grow in the future as we settle into our new normal.
Analyze your business.
Even if your business is experiencing a slowdown, you probably do not feel that you have free time on your hands. Changes in remote working, safety adjustments put in place to protect your customers and associates, and the heightened level of apprehension nationwide has made many of us feel that we are working harder to accomplish less and less. However, despite that feeling, it is essential that each of us look closely at the products or services we are providing to ensure they are the best they can be. If your business has been strong historically, you can expect it to recover and grow over the long term, so think now about what you can do to improve and give yourself the opportunity to gain market share as the economy recovers. As a leader, we often feel as though we are treading water. Use this economic pause as a time to reflect on where your business is, temporarily set aside any of your routine tasks that are not improving the business, and determine how you can be in top shape for recovery.
If your business has been severely impacted by COVID-19 and the corresponding recession, you may need to take this time to evaluate all of your expenses and see where you can make cuts or rearrange employees to save money. With the current economic landscape, cash is king in all industries. Take the emotion out of it and create a plan. Eliminate expenses that aren’t working as well while ramping up spending on items that show promise, especially in driving revenue. During the last recession, many business owners waited too long to right-size their businesses. For example, in homebuilding, now is the time to sell spec homes even if it means you have to take a slightly lower price because access to quick cash will give your business immediate resources to move forward in the right direction.
Don’t forget to analyze your business in terms of the new normal, as well. Remote selling, flexible working arrangements, and social distancing will be with us for the foreseeable future. Chances are that your business has already found ways to adapt to this reality in the past 90 days in order to continue operating. Prepare to make many of those changes permanent, even if your gut may be telling you it significantly upends your business model. Don’t expect to be able to return to how you did business before.
Invest in resources.
It’s a great time to hire, whether you are filling an existing position or creating a new one. For example, we recently added a Resource & Training Manager to our franchise support team. It may seem like an odd time to grow your payroll, but we expect our business will increase over the long-term and this will be an important position at that point. If you can afford it, it is a fantastic time to find candidates for most positions. In our search, we saw many great candidates, and that was not the case last year when unemployment was at record lows.
If you are considering hiring new employees, think about which types of positions will benefit your business the most. Salespeople, for example, often pay for themselves, especially if they are commission-based. Training is another area that is important to keep strong. It is often one of the first departments cut when money gets tight because there is often not a clear and understandable ROI, but these positions will be essential during the rebound as businesses ramp back up. Many industries, including ours, are already seeing signs of a recovery, so take advantage of the coming opportunities and get your operations team ready now.
Take advantage of the new landscape.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost every type of business. For example, in homebuilding, it has been difficult in the last five or six years to find suitable land and reliable subcontractors. That is changing in the COVID era, and several of our Franchise Builders have been proactive and been able to lower cost structures and take second looks at land opportunities that had previously passed them by, all of which will set them up very well when demand normalizes. There are similar circumstances in every industry, so leaders must identify and take advantage of these new opportunities.
Bottom line, if you don’t think about the ways you can take advantage of the current situation, you’ll be behind in the recovery. Invest now in resources that were previously hard to find and high-priced. Instead of hunkering down, pursue sales and growth opportunities while your competitors are fearful to start building the momentum needed to grow your business to the level you desire.
The growth our company has seen during this challenging time is proof that small business owners and laid-off professionals often turn to the franchise during economic downturns because the support and credibility of a proven business model can help them weather the storm and even grow. Franchises also help these individuals diversify their business portfolios, which can provide a hedge against ebbs and flows within certain industries or the economy at large.
Many industries are already seeing improvement, which is reassuring. Leaders that put the work in now will be ready to push forward full steam ahead with the best services and products to set themselves up for substantial growth in the recovery years.
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